super glue and kintsukuroi

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”  ~ Ernest Hemingway

“Make peace with your broken pieces” I read this sentence the other day and it made me think of a word I learned a couple of years ago, kintsugi, a Japanese word which means ‘the art of embracing the damage.’  I read that in Japan, this is a method of repairing broken objects that uses lacquer mixed with metals so that the repair is visible and becomes a recognition of the damage, the history that the object has had, and not trying to mask the repair or crack as if it is flawless…here we use Super Glue, we try so hard to get the right number of dots of glue on the broken edge, and then the right number of dots on the edge of the broken off piece and then we piece it together, trying to not get our fingers stuck together with hands as still as a surgeon’s and we clamp it, or tape it, or balance the object with a dictionary on it in such a way that the crack we hope will become invisible, like ‘nobody will know it has been broken but me.’  I like the idea of this Japanese technique and the philosophy behind it.  It seems more honest.

As we leave 2015 behind tonight and move into 2016 I think it’s only smart to reflect upon our year and think about making peace with our broken pieces…we can use the Americanized technique of Super Glue and Scotch tape and try to pretend that nothing’s been broken, or we can use the Japanese technique of recognizing that something has indeed been broken, it was surely damaged, and it has now been repaired, and it’s okay, beautiful even, to embrace the imperfect…I think this is something of a problem we are mired in, in this modern United States, it’s not very united and it’s hardly perfect, but so many people want to pretend that everything’s fine…we hide behind big houses and straight fences and perfectly manicured lawns with the 2.5 children who are honor roll students who play violin and soccer and our dog that neither sheds nor drools and we have a new car every three years and we eat healthy meals as a family and we go on vacation every Easter and we love our mother in law and we get along with our neighbors and-and-and…and it’s so unattainable…so impossible to achieve…this modern America is all super-glued and scotch taped and pretend…and we let it be that way…

I’m neither feeling cynical nor suspicious of this American life, I am after all part of it, and I don’t begrudge those friends or family or neighbors who are ‘living the dream,’  I simply think a lot of the dream is fake…I am guilty too.  There are a number of things in my life that are so far from perfect I no longer have a map to navigate the terrain I find myself lost in…I go to sleep almost every single night with some sort of confusion or worry or regret…and you know what that gets me?  A bad night’s sleep…so it’s so much easier to pretend that all is well…and I think that’s how it is for most of us.  For those of you who are perfect, and have perfect marriages, big fat mutual funds, disposable income, and no debt, I applaud you…you made far better choices in life than I clearly did, but for the others who like me are far from where they want to be, or far from where they thought they would be “by now,” join me if you will, in making peace with your broken pieces.  Let 2016 be a year to heal.  Fill the damage with gold and silver and platinum.  Let the cracks shine and glimmer and draw your eye right to them, embrace the wound and celebrate the repair.  I’ve grown in this year to believe it’s okay that I’m full of flaws, I just want to be more authentic.  I intend to live more fully in the light and honesty of that statement in this new year.

So we move forward together, into 2016.  We can keep dwelling on the last year, and the one before that, or our pasts or our childhoods or our whatevers, or we can close the doors, turn the pages, step off…whatever term you wish to use that engages your wonder with what’s new for you, that gets you off into a new way of thinking, of being, or living.  There is no right or wrong way to live or to be, we all choose how to act & how to interact, the only “rules” are the ones we choose to live by or recognize as valid.  Some of us can just keep on pretending that nothing is broken, some of us can super glue the cracks and hope they hold, and some of us can come forward with the art of kintsukuroi, embellish the damage and sing out “I’ve been cracked, but I’m not broken” and if that isn’t making peace with your broken pieces, I don’t know what is…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”  ~ Rumi

 

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